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One held in Tagore Prize burglary case

By Our Special Correspondent

KOLKATA, MARCH 27 . The usually tranquil atmosphere at Shantiniketan was charged with tension, following the burglary, in which the Nobel Prize and some 50 artefacts of Rabindranath Tagore had been taken away on Thursday afternoon.

The police are interrogating about six persons in connection with the burglary. One person in Baranagar in North 24-Parganas district, stated to be an antique dealer, has been detained.

According to the Vice-Chancellor of the Visva Bharati University, Sujit Kumar Basu, the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is also the University Chancellor, spoke to him on Friday morning. The President, A.P.J. Kalam, who is also Visitor of the university, has also asked for a full report from the West Bengal Governor, Viren J. Shah.

The CID, which is probing into the incident, is tight-lipped about the progress of investigation.

But, according to Dr. Basu, 26 fingerprints have been lifted and they could have a bearing on the investigation.

One of the many theories doing the rounds suggests that the burglary was planned and executed with the objective of creating problems for the present Visva Bharati authorities.

The number of items missing has risen to 50 from the initial 11. However, according to Dr. Basu, no oil painting of Tagore or manuscript has gone missing. They are all safely stored in the museum strongroom. Some 30 years ago, the Visva Bharati authorities decided to keep the original Nobel medallion for public viewing, while a copy of the medal was safely locked away in the strongroom.

Asked why this decision was taken, the Vice-Chancellor was believed to have said that it was taken in the interest of visitors.

The Rabindra Bhavan Museum has been closed indefinitely.

The area around it is swarming with policemen. Elsewhere in the university campus, black-badge silent processions have been taken out by students, teachers, university officials and staff.

According to the university authorities, the university's security personnel was short-staffed, mainly because those superannuating were not replaced by fresh appointments.

However, they said this did not mean that the museum's security was jeopardized in any way.

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